After the drone attacks on the world’s largest oil field in Saudi Arabia, the United States announced it would deploy additional troops in the Middle East. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said to NBC News that the number of troops will be modest and their primary focus will be air and missile defense.
“The U.S. doesn’t need to be tangled in this regional conflict,” said Brian M. Conley, associate professor of political science and legal studies at Suffolk. “It seems a hasty decision to send troops to Saudi Arabia.”
The attacks led to a shutdown of half of the refineries’ production operations. As a consequence, the oil market has witnessed the largest spike in crude prices in decades, according to CNBC.
“Further damage would be catastrophic for the global and American economy,” said first year pre-law major Amy Araya, considering Saudi Arabia’s economic and strategic importance. “It makes sense that the United States would send troops to protect it.”
According to the U.S. Trade Representative, U.S. goods and services trade with Saudi Arabia totaled an estimated $48.1 billion in 2018.
Currently, Saudi Arabia is the 22nd largest trading partner of the U.S. Many feel that any turmoil between the two power houses could result in major disruption to the global economy.
Yemen based Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attack. They stated that 10 drones were used in the attack which targeted two large crude-processing facilities in Khurais and Abqaiq, according to the article in The New York Times.
Despite the claims made by Houthi rebels, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, after visiting Saudi Arabia, stated that the drone strikes were an Iranian attack, according to The New York Times.
U.S. military officials said it was clear that the weapons used in the attack were Iranian-produced and not launched from Yemen, according to The Washington Post. The administration denied the initial claims that the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels originally made.
Tehran has denied its involvement in the attacks and warned that military actions by the U.S. or Saudi Arabia would result in “all-out war,” according to The Washington Post.
Backing America’s long-standing ally Saudi Arabia, President Trump has explained that the administration estimates different approaches to solve the conflict, according to The Washington Post.
Trump has considered many options. He initially imposed economic sanctions on Iran within 48 hours after the attacks. The president also mentioned to reporters that there is “the ultimate option meaning go in – war,” according to CNBC.
A possibility of a direct conflict with Iran, one of the strongest military powers of the region, has threatened the U.S. and its allies since the Iranian Revolution in 1978.
However, Conley believes that Trump is particularly hesitant to commit troops.
“He talks very tough but then he doesn’t do anything,” Conley said in an interview with The Suffolk Journal. Conley explained that Trump uses harsh rhetoric as an extreme form of soft power instead of implementing hard actions.
On the other hand, Gonzalo A. Echeverria, a first year student studying political theory, said that the U.S. should stop supporting Saudi Arabia due to its systematic violations of human rights.
Echeverria believes that the attacks were orchestrated by “those who Saudis have been bombing for months – the rebels,” referring to Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign in Yemen that led to “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”
The Saudi-led ongoing bombing campaign in Yemen is infamous for its inhumane tactics. The bombings deliberately targeted agricultural facilities therefore causing famine, according to The Guardian.
The results of these bombings are triggering significant humanitarian need throughout the country. A UNICEF report stated that now in Yemen, an estimated 12.3 million children in need of humanitarian assistance.
Conley believes that the threats of U.S. officials to use force is a knee-jerk reaction.
“It is an escalation rather than de-escalation of the regional crisis,” said Conley.